Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
A former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission and Senior Manager, Africa Program, Open Society Justice Initiative, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, has said that even in death, the late Igbo leader and Ex-Biafran warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, remains the subject of passionate adoration in Nigeria.
Odinkalu spoke as a guest lecturer at the Chief Ben Nwazojie SAN, Law Auditorium, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra State, during the maiden edition of the Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Annual Memorial Lecture.
He said the enthronement of a new, better and prosperous Nigeria might not be achieved without recourse to the dynamics represented by late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Noting various coincidences and contradictions in the lives of late Ojukwu and Yakubu Gowon who was the military Head of State when Ojukwu declared Republic of Biafra, Odinkalu said that despite the contradictions and coincidences, or perhaps because of them, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was the “face of a lethal struggle over the future of a country and the coexistence of its people and remains the subject of bitter and passionate disagreements.”
Odikanlu also noted that more than seven years after Ojukwu’s death in 2011, he remains the subject of passionate adoration and equally committed disagreement around which considerable memory remains to be recovered.
The guest lecturer, who highlighted Nigeria’s historical perspective, lamented that while many people knew the name Ojukwu as synonymous with civil war, very few knew his other sides that laid the foundation for a united Nigeria, which is why he advocated the need for sustenance of the lecture series to drum home his good legacies.
Speaking on the topic ‘Between Force of Reason and Reason For Force: The Legacy of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’ Odinkalu centred the discussion on Ojukwu’s Patriotism, Politics of State Creation and Existence, Political and Military Stratification, Regional Integration, Self Determination and Humanitarianism, stressing that the reason and controversies surrounding the Nigerian –Biafran Civil War have not really gone away.
Earlier, the acting Vice Chancellor, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu University, Prof Greg Nwakoby had in an address pointed out that after his appointment on 12th March 2018, he discovered a gap in the course of taking brief that Dim Ojukwu was not placed in the academic activities in the University hence he made a proposal to have him in the academic calendar by instituting a memorial lecture in his honour.
He described the event as making of history noting that Ojukwu was an illustrious son of Nigeria and an Igbo man of character who loved his country and people so dearly.
Chairman on the Occasion, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo noted that Nigeria remains a work in progress which can be properly understood and worked on, with adequate reflection of Dim Ojukwu’s sacrifices and contributions to the Country.
Ojukwu’s widow, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, while appreciating State government and the University management for instituting the Lecture series noted that APGA is one of the legacies of her late husband, as such should not be allowed to wane even as she expressed displeasure over Governor Obiano’s absence during the lecture.
The event was attended by Governor Willie Obiano represented by his deputy, Dr Nkem Okeke, Traditional Rulers, government functionaries, Professors, academia, the clergy and legal luminaries, among others